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When President Wilson asked the belligerents 
for a statement of their aims, the Allies gave, among 
their conditions, the expulsion of the Ottoman 
Empire from Europe and the liberation of the 
peoples subject to its rule. They described the 
Ottoman State as "radically alien to Western 
Civilisation," and its methods of government as a 
"murderous tyranny." These charges will be 
found, on examination, to be entirely true, and the 
remedies to be the least that will cure the evil. But 
they also imply that the just and enduring settle- 
ment which the Allies desire is quite incompatible 
with the status quo in Turkey, and it is therefore 
important to realise what the Ottoman Empire was 
before the War, and what it has become since enter- 
ing into it. 

The political map is deceptive. On the map 
the area marked "Turkey" is rounded off and 
coloured in like the areas marked "Italy" or 
" France" or " Great Britain"; and as a proposal to 
partition these would be regarded on all hands as 
a political crime, so the like proposal in regard to 
Turkey might seem, to anyone judging merely by 
the map, to be at any rate an aggression. The dif- 
ference between the two cases is not apparent on 
the face of them, and calls for explanation. 

How did these different areas take their colour? 
In other words, what has been the history of the 
States that have made these territories their own? 


Their differences appear in their origin. Those 
States which on the map are indistinguishable from 
Turkey are national States. Their claim to in- 
tegrity rests on the common desire of the inhabi- 
tants of their territory, and the inhabitants feel this 
desire either because they originally found the 
land empty and spread over it from a single stock, 
like the American nation; or because they lived in 
the land politically disunited, and then united the 
land and themselves by a common act of will, like the 
Italian nation in the Risorgimento ; or because the 
territory grew gradually by conquest or inheritance, 
and democracy kept pace with expansion, so that 
old and new citizens combined into a single free 
community — the history of England and France. 
The Ottoman Empire, on the other hand, is not a 
national State. It has not grown by willing co- 
operation between neighbours, but by the domina- 
tion of a military power over what might have been 
nations, or parts of nations, if Ottoman militarism 
had not cut them short. And this military domina- 
tion has never improved its original character. Of 
the peoples conquered by it, some have shaken off 
its yoke again and some remain under it still. But 
none have been assimilated by it, none have become 
willing members of its body politic. 

The breaking up of Turkey is not the destruc- 
tion of a living commonwealth, but a liberation of 
enslaved peoples from prison, a clearing of the 
ground for the commonwealths which these peoples 
are at last to build. This is not a theoretical argu- 
ment, but a fact of history, for the break-up of 
Turkey is not a new thing. It has been happening 


for two centuries. The Balkan War of 19 12- 13 
was its penultimate stage, and it has already added 
six nations to the independent States of Europe. 

This Ottoman Power, which has overshadowed 
so many lands and peoples in Asia and Europe, 
sprang from small beginnings. Its founder was 
chief of a little troop of Turkish nomads, who in 
the 13th century wandered into Asia Minor from 
Central Asia. The Turkish Sultans already estab- 
lished in the country let the wanderer carve himself 
out a camping-place on their north-western marches 
— the hill country behind the Asiatic shores of the 
Sea of Marmora, looking down upon what was then 
a Greek coast belonging to the Byzantine Empire. 
The founder's son turned the camping-ground into 
a State, and, taking the name of Osman on his con- 
version from paganism to Islam, bequeathed it to 
his successors. The Osmanlis are those who have 
carried on what Osman began — and they have been 
faithful to his ideas. In less than three centuries 
they added to Osman's few square miles of hill 
country, till their territory stretched from Hungary 
and Algiers and the Crimea to the Red Sea and 
the Persian Gulf, and they won the whole of it by 
military technique. The Osmanlis expanded be- 
cause they had better drill, better artillery, better 
military roads than the peoples they overthrew ; and 
they have staved off their extinction by becoming 
ready pupils of those who have surpassed them in 
the military art. They have borrowed from Prussia 
their ability to fight in the present War ; the instinct 
for soldiering is the Osmanli's one and inalienable 


No other military State has ever so remorse- 
lessly exploited its human material. Prussia grew 
by the conscription of the conquered. The 
Silesians conquered from Austria in 1740 were 
drilled to fight against her in 1866; the Hano- 
verians conquered in 1866 were sent as canonen- 
f utter against France in 1870; the Alsatians con- 
quered in 1870 are manning the German trenches 
at Monastir and Pinsk. But the Osmanlis' system 
was Spartan. They did not take a mere toll of 
years from grown men's lives, but men's whole lives 
from infancy — a tribute of so many children from 
each subject Christian family, every so many years. 
These children were separated for ever from their 
families at the earliest possible age, educated in a 
military school as Moslems, and drafted into a 
standing army, fanatically devoted to their corps, 
the Osmanli Sultan and Islam, and with no other 
ties in the world. The Janissaries (or " New Model 
Army" — as, indeed, they were) made the Ottoman 
conquests, and each fresh people they brought 
under the Ottoman domination became a fresh re- 
cruiting-ground. The Ottoman Empire spread 
with a disastrous momentum, engulfing free peoples 
and destroying well-grown States — the Byzantine 
Empire, which had preserved at Constantinople the 
heritage of Ancient Greek Civilisation ; the young, 
vigorous kingdoms of Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, 
Hungary; the Roumanian principalities of Wal- 
lachia and Moldavia; the Albanian tribesmen; the 
Greek and French and Italian lordships in the 
^Egean Islands and Peloponnesus.. All these were 
overthrown by the Osmanlis in Europe, and in 


Asia their conquests were as thorough and as wide. 
They conquered impartially, not only Christians 
but Moslems, not only Moslems but Turks. 
Their bitterest enemies were the kindred Turkish 
States of Asia Minor, especially the Sultanate of 
Karaman, in the .heart of the peninsula. When 
they had overthrown Karaman, they conquered 
southward and eastward — Armenia and Mesopo- 
tamia from the Shahs of Persia, Syria and Egypt 
and the Holy Cities from the Mamelukes, lesser 
Armenia and Trebizond from their national 
Christian princes. Their hand was against every 
man's, and none whom they conquered became 
reconciled to their rule. 

Ottoman policy towards conquered peoples has 
passed through three phases — all bad, but each 
worse than the last. The first phase may be called 
the policy of neglect, and Sultan Mohammed II., 
who conquered Constantinople in 1453 and organ- 
ised what he and his predecessors since Osman had 
acquired, may stand as its author. This policy re- 
garded the subject peoples simply as raw material 
for the production of Ottoman requirements — tri- 
bute in children and tribute in kind for the Osmanli 
Sultan's army, and peasant labour for the estates 
of the "beys" or feudal retainers whom the Sultans 
planted on the richest part of the conquered 
soil. Beyond these servitudes — which were as 
barbarically simple as Ottoman militarism itself — 
the Ottoman Empire had no use for its subject 
peoples. They were beyond the Osmanli's social 
pale; or, rather, they were not, in his eyes, even 
human, but "Rayah" — cattle — who might fore- 


gather in any kind of herd they liked so long as 
they submitted to be milked and slaughtered. Pro- 
vided they remained docile, it was to the Osmanlis' 
interest that they should shepherd themselves, 
and Mohammed II. encouraged the formation of 
"millets," or subject national communities, within 
the Ottoman State. The "millets" (the most im- 
portant of which were the Armenian and the Greek) 
were ostensibly ecclesiastical corporations. At the 
head of each there was a Patriarch and Council 
resident in Constantinople, who exercised authority 
over their nationality through a hierarchy of metro- 
politans, bishops and village priests. But there 
was little trace of religion in the institution. The 
clergy were raised to power by the Osmanlis be- 
cause they were the only corporate organisation in 
the subject peoples which Ottoman conquest had 
not destroyed. As the last national rallying point, 
they retained an influence over their countrymen 
which the Ottoman Government could not override, 
and, in return for the recognition of it, they under- 
took to wield it as Ottoman officials. The Patri- 
archs of the "millets" were more than religious 
primates. The administration of civil law among 
their nationals was largely left in their hands, and 
their jurisdiction was supported by the force of the 
Ottoman State. In addition to this licensed mea- 
sure of self-government, there was much actual 
liberty among the Sultan's less accessible subjects 
— islanders and bedouin and mountaineers. It has 
been said of this phase of Ottoman domination that 
countries and peoples prospered under it in propor- 
tion to their neglect by the Ottoman Government, 


and it is certainly true that all the good that has 
come out of the territory painted Ottoman on the 
map, since and so long as this territory has been in 
Ottoman power, has come in spite of, and never 
through the agency of, the Ottoman Government, 
and would have been infinitely greater if that 
Government had never expanded from its original 
restricted seat. 

The only merits, then, of Ottoman policy in this 
first phase were its indifference and neglect, which 
gave its subjects liberty to prosper if they could. 
But this phase only lasted while the Osmanlis were 
a conquering power, and their military machine, like 
every other that has ever been made, had a limited 
span of vitality. The invincible Janissaries sank 
first into a hereditary militia, then into a privileged 
shopkeeping class. Their privileges were for their 
sons, and new Christian recruits became unwelcome 
interlopers. In the 17th century the tribute of 
children was abandoned, through the jealousy of 
the Janissaries themselves, not through the humani- 
tarianism of the Ottoman Government. The mili- 
tary basis of Ottoman domination was sapped, and 
during the next two centuries the Ottoman terri- 
tory shrank almost as rapidly as it had expanded 
before. A good Government would have arrested 
dissolution by making life worth living for the sub- 
ject peoples within the Ottoman frontiers, and so 
giving them a positive interest in the preservation 
of the Ottoman State. It would have granted fuller 
self-government to the "millets," more unrestricted 
freedom to the islanders and bedouin and moun- 
taineers. It would have enlisted the warlike quali- 


ties of the Albanians, the seamanship of the Greeks, 
the horsemanship of the Arabs, the business ability 
of the Syrians, Armenians and Jews, the industry 
ot the Bulgarian and Anatolian peasantry, and 
would have drawn, all these elements together into 
a national State. Such things were done by the 
Governments — military, too, in their origin — which 
created England and France. But between the 
Osmanlis and those they had conquered a great gulf 
remained, which the Osmanlis never attempted to 
bridge. As the Osmanlis were beaten in war, their 
subject peoples broke away — some to find a better 
life under other States, some to found new national 
States of their own, but all outside the Ottoman 
dominion and only at the expense of its territorial 

Instead of conciliating their subjects, the 
Osmanlis began to feel that they could no longer 
afford to leave them the liberty they had allowed 
them in the past. The subject peoples must no 
longer be permitted to make the best of themselves ; 
on the contrary, they must be made weaker and more 
wretched than they were. Towards the end of the 
19th century, when the complete extinction of 
the Ottoman Empire was in sight, this feeling 
was framed into a new policy by Sultan Abd-ul- 

Hamidianism was the second phase of Ottoman 
domination. Starting with the absence of any im- 
pulse to build an Ottoman nationality, but facing 
the fact that, as Osmanli rule grew weaker, one 
subject people after another was awaking to a 
national life of its own. Abd-ul-Hamid decided to 


exploit these national movements within his Empire 
by turning them against one another. Instead of 
developing what was good in themselves, they 
should be egged on to maim and warp the develop- 
ment of their neighbours. All would thus be 
weakened more rapidly even than the Sultan's own 
Government, and he would be making the integrity 
of his territory secure as he made the inhabitants 
of it disillusioned and miserable. 

Abd-ul-Hamid reigned from 1876 to 1908, and 
carried his policy out. He ruined the "millets" — 
not by erecting a Bulgarian Exarchate, which was 
a just and beneficial act in itself, but by granting 
this Exarchate jurisdiction over populations which 
the Greek Patriarchate had a right to consider its 
own. Bulgarian ambition was stimulated, Greek 
jealousy was aroused, and the two chief national 
bodies in the Osmanlis' remaining Balkan territory 
were drawn into a fratricidal conflict, which ab- 
sorbed their energies for evil instead of good. By 
about 1890 Greek and Bulgarian "bands" had been 
formed in Macedonia, which " converted" the Mace- 
donian villagers from the Patriarchate to the Ex- 
archate, or vice versa, and back again, by descend- 
ing upon them alternately and terrorising or mas- 
sacring all villagers who held to the opposite 
allegiance. The Osmanli gendarmerie did not 
suppress these bands. They contented themselves 
with burning a village now and then — " for harbour- 
ine them," though the bandsmen were the least 
welcome euests the villagers had ever received. As 
the anarchy and bloodshed in Macedonia grew 
worse, the free Balkan States were brought to the 


verge of war on behalf of their suffering fellow- 
countrymen, and the relations of the Great Powers 
were strained by the fear that a Balkan outbreak 
might upset the balance between them. And both 
these catastrophes occurred within a few years of 
Abd-ul-Hamid's deposition. The Balkan Wars of 
19 1 2- 1 3 — first of the Balkan League against the 
Ottoman Empire, and then of the confederates 
against each other — were the direct fruit of Abd-ul- 
Hamid's policy; and the European War, so far as 
it was produced by Balkan causes, lies also at his 
door. This was the Macedonian policy of Abd-ul- 
Hamid, and it was perpetrated simply in order that 
certain territories in Europe, which the Osmanlis 
had no more right to govern f than those from which 
they had been ejected already, should remain Otto- 
man on the political map. 

The same bloodshed and anarchy, with the same 
purpose, were fomented by Abd-ul-Hamid wherever 
he ruled. Having set the Bulgars against the 
Greeks, he encouraged the Albanians to harry the 
Serbs. The Albanian tribesmen came down from 
their mountains and evicted the Serbian peasantry 
from their ancestral villages in the plains of Kos- 
sovo, while the Ottoman Government looked on 
and the free Serbs beyond the frontier were unable 
to interfere. But the Sultan's chosen instruments 
were the Kurds — a race of mountain shepherds in 
the eastern Asiatic provinces, whom previous Sul- 
tans had tried to reduce to order, but whom Abd-ul- 
Hamid armed with modern rifles and organised into 
" Hamidian Gendarmerie" for use against the 


To rob and murder the Armenians was the ser- 
vice asked of the Kurds and the reward given them 
for it; and here, as in Macedonia, the policy pro- 
duced bloodshed and anarchy after Abd-ul-Hamid's 
heart. The Armenians formed counter-organisa- 
tions; some mountain communities broke into re- 
volt. The Kurds were at once reinforced by 
Osmanli regulars, the fanaticism of the Turkish 
Mohammedans 111 Asia Minor was stirred up, and 
during the years 1896-7 there were massacres of 
Armenians from one end of the Empire to the other, 
culminating in a butchery in the streets of Con- 
stantinople. Before the Sultan had to yield to 
foreign indignation, he had killed enough Armenian 
men, women and children to weaken the Armenian 
nation for .a generation ahead. 

Abd-ul-Hamid was overthrown by a coalition of 
revolutionaries from two of the nations he mis- 
governed, the Anatolian Turks and the Salonica 
Jews, who controlled, between them, the army and 
finance. Under the name of the "Young Turkish 
Party," this cabal has ruled the Ottoman Empire 
since then. It is a secret committee, with branch 
committees affiliated to it in the chief towns of the 
Empire, and the Sultan, Ministry, Parliament and 
Bureaucracy which it has set up are all puppets in 
its hands. This secret committee — of " Union and 
Progress," as it styles itself — brought the Ottoman 
Empire into the European War, in order to obtain 
a free hand for a new policy of domination, which 
is the worst of all. 

The first phase of Ottoman policy towards sub- 
ject peoples was neglect, the Hamidian was attri- 


tion ; but the Young Turkish phase is extermination, 
and the Young Turks are carrying it out at this 
moment by every means in their power. 

They are " Nationalists," but they do not aim 
at turning the territory still marked Ottoman on 
the map into a national State, like Italy or France 
or Great Britain or the American Union — States in 
which all the inhabitants of the country are willing 
citizens with equal rights. That, may figure in the 
Young Turkish programme, but it is too alien to the 
Osmanli tradition for any Ottoman Government to 
undertake it, even if the Hamidian phase had not 
gone before to make it impossible. The Young 
Turks know that no subject people will now remain 
under Ottoman dominion by choice; the problem is 
to fetter them under it by force. The Young 
Turkish motto is " Ottomanisation," which means 
that Turkish habits, education, religion, but above 
all language, are to be imposed upon every people 
within the Ottoman frontiers, and that those who 
cannot be coerced are to be eliminated. 

This policy is borrowed from Central Europe, 
where for the last fifty years 60,000,000 Germans 
have been engaged in "Prussianising" about 
6,000,000 Alsatians, Danes and • Poles, and 
10,000,000 Magyars more than their own number 
of Slovaks, Ruthenes, Roumanians and Southern 
Slavs. The Young Turks have'set themselves to 
impose the nationality of 8,000(000 Turkish-speak- 
ing peasants in Anatolia upon almost twice as many 
people of other races, the majority of whom are 
their superiors : n civilisation. In the " Report of 
Progress" submitted to the Young Turkish party 


congress in October, 191 1, it was laid down that 
" sooner or later the complete Ottomanisation of all 
Turkish subjects must be carried out. It is clear, 
however," the report continued, " that this result can 
never be reached by persuasion, but that armed 
force will have to be resorted to. . . . The other 
nationalities must be denied the right of organisa- 
tion, for decentralisation and autonomy are treason 
to the Turkish Empire. The nationalities are a 
quantite negligeable. They may keep their reli- 
gion but not their language." 

The Ottoman Government emerged from the 
Balkan War of 191 2-13 with a territory reduced 
to Thrace, Constantinople, the Straits and the 
Provinces in Asia, and a population of between 
20 and 25 millions (statistics are inexact). In this 
population there were about 8,000,000 Turks, 
nearly all living north of a line drawn from i\lex- 
andretta to Van; 7,000,000 Arabs (Moslem or 
Christian) to the south of that line; 2,000,000 
Armenians and 2,000,000 Greeks, scattered over 
the northern half of the Empire, the Greeks mostly 
to the west and the Armenians to the east; and from 
two to three million semi-independent hillmen — 
Kurds, Kizil-Bashis, Yezidis, Maronites, Druses, 
Nestorians and others. Many of these races of the 
Empire were represented among the million or so 
inhabitants of Constantinople. About half of 
these inhabitants were Turks; there were 150,000 
Armenians and 150,000 Greeks ; a handful of Kurds 
and Arabs; a stiong colony of Jews, and an im- 
portant foreign commercial population: Constanti- 
nople was, and remains, a cosmopolitan city. 


This was the Young Turks' field for Ottomani- 
sation. They have been dealing with it piece by 
piece. Between the end of the Balkan War and 
their intervention in the European War they dealt 
with Thrace, the only province left to them in 
Europe. In 19 13 the population of Thrace was 
predominantly Greek, with a Turkish element round 
Adrianople and some Bulgarians in the mountains 
towards the north-east. A year later only Turks 
were left; Greeks and Bulgarians had been driven 
out across the frontier, stripped of their property 
and their lands. If the Young Turks now claim 
Thrace as a purely Turkish country, it is well to 
know how and when it became so. The " Ottomani- 
sation" of Thrace is the most conclusive argument 
for expelling the Ottoman Empire from Europe as 
"radically alien to Western Civilisation." 

At the same time the Young Turks began driv- 
ing out the Greeks from the western coastlands of 
Asia Minor. They meant to "solve" their Greek 
problem altogether, and the kingdom of Greece 
was on the verge of a second war with the Ottoman 
Empire on this account, when the European War 
supervened. As Allies of Germany, the Young 
Turks, for reasons of common policy, had to give 
their Greek subjects a respite; but, in compensa- 
tion, they had a freer hand to settle with the other 
races than they had ever had before. They need 
no longer stop at eviction and attrition; they could 
massacre on an infinitely greater scale than Abd-ul- 
Hamid ever dared to do, and no foreign power 
could restrain them so long as they had Germany's 
countenance and military support. 


The Young Turks are using their opportunity. 
The extermination of the 2,000,000 Armenians is 
already an accomplished fact. About two-thirds 
of them were "deported" — men, women and 
children- — hundreds of miles, for weeks on end, 
over roadless mountains, to the semi-tropical 
swamps and deserts on the Empire's southern 
fringes. About half the exiles reached their 
destinations, and have been dying there since of 
starvation, exposure and disease. The other half 
died of exhaustion on the way, or were murdered 
by the gendarmes who escorted them and by 
organised bands of brigands and Kurds. A third 
of the nation may still be alive — the Armenians in 
Constantinople and Smyrna were mostly spared; 
a certain number escaped by conversion to Islam 
(though this, for women and girls, involved entrance 
into a Moslem's harem) ; about 200,000 escaped to 
Russia and Egypt. These 200,000 refugees — 
10 per cent, of the Armenians living under Otto- 
man domination in 19 14 — are the only Ottoman 
Armenians whose preservation is assured. 

After eliminating the Armenians, the Young 
Turks prepared the same fate for the Arabs, and 
they have been engaged on this since 19 16. The 
Arabs in the southern provinces have been able to 
defend themselves. The province of Yemen, in 
the hinterland of Aden, has been in chronic revolt 
for years, and the Young Turks have abandoned 
the attempt to subdue it's national rulers. The 
province of Hedjaz, which contains the holy cities 
of Mecca and Medina, reasserted its independence a 
few months ago under the leadership of the Sherif 


of Mecca, who is the hereditary custodian of the 
holy cities. But Syria, still held down by Otto- 
man armies, is being Ottomanised with might and 
main. The Syrian leaders (Moslem or Christian 
without distinction, for their common crime is that 
they are Arabs and not Turks) are either dead or 
in prison; the next blow will fall on the helpless 
masses. It is the same method as with the 
Armenians — the same organised direction from the 
"Union and Progress" Committee at Constanti- 
nople — and it will have the same end unless changes 
in the military situation intervene. 

The whole Young Turkish policy was summed 
up in a sentence by an Osmanli gendarme to a 
Danish Red Cross Sister : " First we kill the 
Armenians, then the Greeks, then the Kurds." The 
issue resolves itself into a question of time. Which 
will be destroyed first? The subject peoples or 
the Ottoman domination? 

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